LATEST NHL BUZZ
Ryan Miller is going to be the hottest name on the trade block all season but the reality of the situation is Miller’s unlikely to land with a Cup contender via trade or free agency next summer.
Chicago is a no with Corey Crawford, Boston has Tuukka Rask, Los Angeles Jonathan Quick, Detroit Jimmy Howard, the Penguins are committed to Marc Andre Fleury for this season and the list goes on and on to Anaheim, San Jose, Vancouver, ect. Most true contenders aren’t in the market for a No. 1 goaltender.
Miller would sure be a great fit for the Edmonton Oilers but that’s not happening. The team gaining some steam in league circles as a potential sleeper to make a serious play for Miller later this season is the New York Islanders. The Islanders are a legit goaltender away from turning the corner and if they had some better goaltending vs Pittsburgh last spring, that series would have went in the favor of New York in a big upset.
If the Islanders make a serious play for Miller, which some believe is likely, the question mark is going to be whether Miller would have any interest in joining the Islanders who are rumored to be on his no trade list.
MAATTA TO IMPACT FUTURES OF ORPIK/NISKANEN NEXT SUMMER?
Few 19 year old defenseman come onto the scene and play as well as Olli Maatta has for the Penguins. He has just been tremendous, a special talent and is obviously ready for a full-time NHL role. Maatta could evolve into a real difference maker for the Penguins as the season progresses but It just remains to be seen if management will let it happen as Maatta’s clock is ticking with him appearing in his eighth NHL game this afternoon. Decision time looms as in a matter of days with the Penguins playing Vancouver today and the Colorado Avalanche Monday night.
Things are being held close to the vest by the organization but despite a push from the coaching staff to keep Maatta, the buzz on Maatta from people in the know continues to be that the Penguins could stick with their plan to let him play out his nine games than send him back and plug Kris Letang back into the lineup next week.
Maatta, though, is leaving the Penguins with a very, very tough decision and those who have scouted Maatta extensively in the past year, feel going back to juniors does him no good.
Regardless of what decision is made, this much is clear: The team can pencil Maatta in as a regular on the blueline for the 2014-2015 season. He’s not going to be spending a day in the AHL.
Maatta’s emergence figures to impact the futures of at least one of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, both impending UFA’s. Orpik is going nowhere this season but the chances are slim of the Penguins resigning both this summer.
Pittsburgh has Kris Letang, Rob Scuderi, Paul Martin and Robert Bortuzzo under contract for next season. Letang is going nowhere, while it’s hard to imagine any scenario of Martin or Scuderi getting moved.
The Penguins have Simon Despres, Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin all pressing for NHL time but there’s no guarantee all three will still be with the organization next summer and as one team source said, the only way to envision the Penguins going with a youth movement and opening up “multiple” spots for young players is if the Penguins were to be knocked out in the first round or something along those lines and management were to buy into a youth movement.
When it comes to a young player/notably a draft pick making the Penguins roster, you have to force your way onto the team like Beau Bennett did last year and Olli Maatta is now.
Despite the wear and tear, his body has taken, the Penguins will make an attempt to sign Orpik who the team has been thrilled with in how he’s transformed his game into one of hockey’s best shot blockers. Orpik is the heart and soul of this team, the term, though, is going to be a tricky one in contract talks.
Rob Scuderi got a four year deal from the Penguins at age 34. My sources have said if the Penguins open up talks with Orpik in-season, which is a consideration, the intention is to go three years and see what happens.
Orpik would be a huge attraction on the open market, likely garnering four to five year offers at $4 to $5 million per season, NHL sources predict.
Niskanen’s future is likely to be determined by whether Orpik gets resigned. Niskanen is off to a career year.